This article titled “Trump impeachment: senators kill Democratic efforts to subpoena more evidence – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh in San Francisco (now), and Joan E Greve in Washington (earlier), for theguardian.com on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 07.33 UTC
Live coverage of the impeachment trial continues on Wednesday’s blog:
Day one summary
- Over the course of nearly 13 hours, House impeachment managers clashed with White House lawyers as they debated the rules that will govern the impeachment trial.
- Republican senators voted to kill 11 amendments to the trial rules brought forth by the Democrats, thwarting multiple attempts to subpoena documents and witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton.
- House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler, who is one of the impeachment managers, accused Republicans of “voting for a coverup” by rejecting attempts to acquire more evidence.
- Voting along party lines, Republicans pushed through the rules as proposed by Senate leader Mitch McConnell, unamended.
- McConnell did change the rules a bit since he first revealed them, allowing for each side to take three days, rather than two, to present their cases. He also allowed the House’s impeachment evidence to be admitted into the Senate record.
- Throughout, Chief Justice John Roberts played a procedural role — piping up just once to admonish both sides for a lack of civil discourse. “I do think that those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” he said.
- As the hours wore on, lawmakers looked visibly worn out — a couple of senators appeared to nod off.
- The trial is adjourned until Wednesday at 1pm ET, when House managers will present their case.
Guardian reporters will be back tomorrow with more live updates from the impeachment trial. In the meantime, catch up on our coverage so far:
Updated at 7.33am GMT
Senate Republicans pass the trial rules, without amendments
After 13 hours of debate, Republican senators pushed through the organizing resolution for the impeachment proposed by Mitch McConnell, without any of the 11 amendments proposed by Democrats.
The trial is now adjourned until 1pm ET on Wednesday.
Updated at 6.57am GMT
Senators kill 11th and last Democratic amendment
The final amendment proposed by minority leader Chuck Schumer would allow Chief Justice John Roberts — as a neutral party — to decide whether to allow motions to subpoena witnesses or documents.
Finally, the senators are voting on the organizing resolution for the impeachment trial, as proposed by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Before the vote, McConnell addressed Chief Justice John Roberts: “We want to thank you for your patience,” he said.
“Comes with the job,” Roberts responded.
Updated at 6.45am GMT
The Office of Management and Budget responded to a FOIA request by releasing a trove of documents on military aid to Ukraine.
The watchdog organization made “request for directives and communications that may relate to any effort to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate one of President Trump’s political opponents as part of an effort to give the president an electoral advantage,” it said.
Senators kill the 10th Democratic amendment to allow for additional time to file responses to motions. The rules provide each side two hours. Schumer’s amendment asked for 24.
The debate on this one was very short — things are speeding up.
Updated at 6.46am GMT
As expected, Democrats’ eighth amendment, like all the others, was voted down, along party lines. Republicans blocked the Democratic push to subpoena John Bolton.
The former national security advisor could still testify if a majority of senators vote to subpoena his testimony later.
They also killed a ninth amendment, which would force a Senate vote on any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents. The current rules require a procedural vote that must pass before a vote on subpoenas. In this vote, there was one Republican defector: Senator Susan Collins.
Updated at 6.40am GMT
John Roberts took an opportunity to rebuke both House managers and the White House counsel “in equal terms” for their language and personal attacks. He asked everyone to “avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse”.
Roberts also offered a fun fact. In 1905, a Senator objected to a manager using the word “pettifogging” and the presiding officer found that the world “ought not to be used”, he said. “I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the senate should remember where they are,” Roberts added.
Updated at 6.48am GMT
In response, White House lawyer Jay Sekulow raised his voice and banged the podium for emphasis. He accused Nadler of trying to “shred Constitution on the floor of the floor of the Senate” by questioning Donald Trump’s executive privilege claim.
Pat Cipollone called the impeachment a “farce”.
“Mister Nadler, you owe an apology to the President of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all you owe an apology to the American people,” he said.
Nadler: ‘Only guilty people try to hide the evidence’
Arguing for a subpoena of John Bolton, Jerrold Nadler accused senators quashing against Democrats’ attempts to bring forth more witnesses of “voting for a coverup”.
“Voting to deny witnesses and obviously a treacherous vote,” Nadler said. “A vote against an honest consideration of the evidence against the President. A vote against an honest trial. A vote against the United States.”
Nadler also said that Trump’s supporters want to block Bolton’s testimony are doing so because “they know he knows too much”.
“Only guilty people try to hide evidence,” Nadler said.
Updated at 5.56am GMT
Seventh Democratic amendment tabled, along party lines. And we move on to yet the next amendment… to subpoena John Bolton.
Each side gets an hour to make their case. This time, Jerrold Nadler, the representative from New York and House Judiciary chair, is arguing the Democrats’ case. Bolton, a former national security advisor, recently said he is willing to testify after resisting doing so during the impeachment inquiry. Donald Trump has said he’ll block Bolton, invoking executive privilege.
Democrats believe that Bolton has firsthand information about the president’s efforts to secure a quid pro quo with the government of Ukraine. Three Republican senators — Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — have indicated they might want to hear from Bolton. But it’s unlikely they’ll vote to approve the amendment to subpoena Bolton today. Collins said in a statement today that she’ll consider witnesses after hearing the case, and answers to senators’ questions.
Updated at 5.34am GMT
Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been presiding over the trial all day, will have to be up early tomorrow morning for his day job. At 10 am Eastern Time, he’s expected to hear arguments in a Supreme Court case to decide whether publicly funded religious education is constitutional.
Even today, his very long day started at the Supreme Court, where he oversaw oral arguments in two cases before heading to the Senate.
The constitution requires that the chief justice “shall preside” over an impeachment trial of a president. In practice, the role has mostly been ceremonial. Previously, chief justices have left it to a Senate parliamentarian to manage the process. Roberts could take a more hands-on approach, and compel witnesses to testify — but that’s unlikely to happen.
So far, Roberts’ role in the Senate trial has been to ask White House lawyers and impeachment managers to speak, in turn, and grant motions to take recess as needed.
Updated at 4.59am GMT
Yet another Democratic amendment voted down
It’s close to midnight in Washington DC, and the senators are taking a 5-minute break. Each of Chuck Schumer’s amendments so far have been voted down along party lines, 53-47.
Schumer has proposed yet another amendment, “to prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials”. The amendment would require each side to provide the other any additional evidence that is gathered via a subpoena. When he asked for it to be read out loud before the break, he reassured everyone, “It’s short.”
Updated at 4.35am GMT
What the cameras aren’t showing us
The video feed of the trial is controlled by the Senate Recording Studio. C-SPAN asked Mitch McConnell for permission to bring in its own cameras because the existing setup “provides a restricted view of Senate floor debates”, but the Senate majority leader did not respond, the New Yorker reports.
As a result, people at home can’t catch a glimpse of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bright yellow boots, or hear what lawmakers are whispering to each other in between presentations. We can’t see the expression on Lisa Murkowski’s face or snoop on what Marco Rubio is scribbling in his notebook.
TV camera crews are also restricted outside the Senate chamber — reporters aren’t allowed to approach senators directly outside.
Some news organizations have commissioned courtroom sketch artists to capture what the cameras aren’t showing.
Updated at 4.32am GMT
Senators vote down the fifth Democratic amendment
Like all the other Democratic efforts to subpoena more evidence, it was voted down along party lines — 53-47.
Minority leader Chuck Schumer has moved right on, and introduced a sixth amendment, to subpoena testimony by Robert Blair, an aide to Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, and Office of Management and Budget official.
The Democrats’ fifth amendment today is to subpoena documents from the Department of Defense. There will be two hours of debate on this impeachment as well, and it’s unclear how late the trial will go tonight.
Read The Guardian’s recap of the trial so far:
In four consecutive votes split precisely on party lines, the Senate voted down Democratic proposals to subpoena the testimony of the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and to subpoena documents and records from the White House, the state department and the budget office relevant to an alleged scheme by Trump to twist the powers of the presidency to extract personal political favors from Ukraine.
Each of the proposed subpoenas was defeated by a 53-47 vote. Democrats accused Republicans of failing to commit to a fair impeachment trial and of engaging in a “cover-up” of misconduct by the president.
“The president is engaged in this cover-up because he is guilty, and he knows it,” said Representative Val Demings of Florida, one of the impeachment prosecutors, referred to as “managers”, in the case.
A further opportunity for the senators to demand documents or witnesses was anticipated in the weeks ahead. But Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, urged the senators to issue subpoenas before an allotted period for senators to question the legal teams.
“You should want to see these documents,” said Schiff. “You should want to know what these private emails and text messages have to say.
“The American people want a fair trial,” Schiff said. “But a great many Americans don’t believe that will happen. Let’s prove them wrong.”
Updated at 3.09am GMT
Report: Senate Democrats are privately considering allowing Republicans to call Hunter Biden as a witness, in exchange for testimony from a key Trump administration official.
Though Democrats have publicly dismissed Republicans’ calls to subpoena Joe Biden’s son Hunter, privately, some senators and aides considering making an unusual deal. They’re willing to call in one of the Bidens if Republicans agree to subpoena national security advisor John Bolton, or another administration official with firsthand knowledge of the Ukraine controversy, the Washington Post reports:
The discussions about the Bidens are being closely held, and the issue is fraught for Democrats, due to the differing levels of support for Biden in a chamber stocked with presidential candidates and the clashing views on impeachment strategy. In private conversations in recent days, there has been much loathing of the Republicans’ spotlight on the Bidens among Senate Democrats, but also a fear that unless a witness deal is eventually struck, the trial could proceed without witnesses, according to party officials and Senate aides.
That predicament has led to discussions about whether, down the line, Hunter Biden or Joe Biden should be considered as part of a witness proposal. But there is hesitancy to raise the issue publicly until Senate Democratic leaders signal interest, the officials and aides said.
Updated at 2.49am GMT
For the fourth time today, senators voted to kill a Democratic amendment to the impeachment trial resolution, deciding against calling Mick Mulvaney as a witness.
In October, Mulvaney admitted that Donald Trump froze nearly 0 million in aid to Ukraine in part to pressure Ukranian officials into investigating Democrats. Almost immediately, he denied it.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell asked the Democrats to “stack” their amendments. Chuck Schumer refused, but said he’d be opening to having some of the votes tomorrow. “There will be a good number of votes. There’s no reason we have to do them tonight,” Schumer said.
Updated at 2.54am GMT
Addressing the Democratic senators running for president, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone said the whole impeachment process was about “removing” Donald Trump from the 2020 ballot.
This wasn’t the first time Cipollone singled out the 2020 candidates. Earlier, he suggested that Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennett were sour they couldn’t campaign this week. “ Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now,” he said.
Klobuchar responded by saying she’s able to “do two things at once”.
Updated at 3.00am GMT
The first day of the trial has been far less dramatic than expected. The Guardian’s David Smith fills in what the Senate cameras aren’t showing:
This moment had been much hyped by cable TV but viewers hoping for the political equivalent of the OJ Simpson trial were in for a disappointment. There was no prisoner in the dock; Trump is thousands of miles away in Davos. This was reality TV without the reality TV president.
There was, however, the California Democrat Adam Schiff, the lead House manager in the impeachment trial, who once wrote a screenplay for a Hollywood crime thriller. He was not quite Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men or Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, but he did put Republicans on the spot over their pledge on oath to be impartial jurors.
“The American people want a fair trial. They want to believe their system of government is still capable of rising to the occasion,” Schiff entreated. “They want to believe we can rise above party and do what’s best for the country, but a great many Americans don’t believe that will happen. Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s prove them wrong!”
In the Hollywood version, the chamber erupted in applause, heavenly horns played and a solitary tear trickled down McConnell’s face. In the Washington version, however, Republicans sat or slouched expressionless or studied papers on their desks, while McConnell fixed Schiff with a death stare as if intent on turning him to stone.
Updated at 3.12am GMT
The trial has resumed after a 30-minute dinner break. Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House impeachment managers, is now making the case to subpoena Mick Mulvaney.
The congressman from New York said Donald Trump makes Richard Nixon “look like a choir boy”. Trump is “personally responsible for depriving the Senate of information important to consider in this trial”, Jeffries said, referring to the president’s efforts to block House investigators from accessing documents and witnesses throughout the impeachment inquiry.
“Evidence matters. And the truth matters,” Jeffries said.
But Republicans have voted down multiple Democratic efforts to subpoena more evidence. The trial, writes the Guardian’s David Smith, is testing conscience of the Republican party.
Updated at 2.26am GMT
Senators vote to kill third Democratic amendment
A motion to subpoena documents related to the suspension of military aid to Ukraine from the Office of Management and Budget has been tabled, with a 53-47 vote along party lines.
This is the third amendment brought by the minority leader Chuck Schumer that Senate Republicans have voted down. Schumer has also introduced another amendment to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.
The senators will address that later tonight, after taking a 30-minute recess for dinner. While the trial is ongoing, snacks are banned in the chamber, though drinks of water and milk are permitted.
Updated at 1.40am GMT
Both parties have two hours to debate this amendment, and then, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, indicated he’ll move to table it. After a vote, the lawmakers will get a 30-minute break – which, from the looks of everyone in the chamber is much needed.
Senator James Risch of Idaho appeared to nod off, according to reporters.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand seemed to rest her eyes for a bit as well. And Senator Martha McSally had a blanket on her lap.
Updated at 12.56am GMT
Senators vote to kill the amendment to subpoena State Department documents
As expected, senators voted along party lines, 53-47.
Minority leader Chuck Schumer has introduced a third amendment to subpoena the White House Office of Management and Budget. This one is again, expected to fail.
Meanwhile, in 2020 news…
Rush, a Democratic representative from Illinois, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was impressed by Bloomberg’s approach to the “economic discrimination in the black community.”
The congressman had endorsed Kamala Harris before she dropped out of the presidential race.
To demonstrate the importance of subpoenaing the state department, Val Demings displayed text messages between the US envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and the US diplomat Bill Taylor, which were uncovered during the House impeachment inquiry. One of the messages seemed to confirm that the Trump administration was withholding military aid in order to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
The texts and other messages uncovered by House investigators make clear that there’s more damaging information out there, Demings said. But the Trump administration has been blocking the release of information, claiming executive privilege.
Information obtained through a Senate subpoena “would help complete our understanding of how the president’s scheme unfolded in realtime”, Demings said.
Updated at 11.19pm GMT
The trial resumes
Senators are now debating another amendment to the rules of the Senate impeachment trial from Chuck Schumer. This one involves subpoenaing the state department.
Val Demings, a Democratic representative from Florida and one of the House impeachment managers, spoke in support of Schumer’s amendment. State department documents “would support the conclusion that senior Ukrainian officials understood the corrupt nature of President Trump’s demand and they would further expose the extent to which Secretary Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney and other senior Trump officials were aware of the president’s plot and helped carry it out”, she said.
“We know that [the documents] are relevant, and we know the president is desperately trying to conceal them,” she added.
Still, the amendment is expected to fail along party lines. It’s unclear how many amendments that Schumer will introduce today.
Updated at 10.45pm GMT
Republican senator indicates she’ll support a motion to subpoena witnesses
Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, issued a statement indicating that she will likely support a motion to call more witnesses.
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours as the Senate impeachment trial continues.
Here’s where the trial stands so far:
- In a party-line vote, Senate Republicans successfully killed the minority leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment to the resolution outlining rules for the impeachment trial. The New York Democrat’s amendment called for subpoenaing White House documents related to the charges against Trump.
- The House impeachment manager Adam Schiff argued on the Senate floor that it would be “ass-backwards” to hold an impeachment trial and then request witness testimony.
- The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, altered the resolution outlining rules for the impeachment trial, allowing each side to present their arguments over three days rather than two. The altered resolution also allows for automatic inclusion of evidence from the House impeachment inquiry, although senators have the chance to object.
- The House impeachment managers presented evidence arguing in favor of Trump’s removal from office, while the president’s lawyers depicted his impeachment as the result of a partisan “witch hunt”.
Maanvi will have more updates from the trial coming up, so stay tuned.
Updated at 10.42pm GMT
The Senate is now taking a ten-minute recess, after which the House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team will be allowed to debate Chuck Schumer’s second amendment to Mitch McConnell’s impeachment trial resolution.
But McConnell said he intended to propose to also table that amendment, and that motion is likely to succeed on a party-line vote, as the first motion to table did.
Republicans kill Schumer’s amendment to the impeachment trial resolution
Senate Republicans successfully killed minority leader Chuck Schumer’s amendment to the resolution outlining rules for the impeachment trial, which called for subpoenaing White House documents related to the charges against Trump.
Schumer is now introducing another amendment, which is aimed at subpoenaing State Department documents related to the impeachment. It will likely also fail along party lines.
As expected, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a motion to table (or kill) Chuck Schumer’s amendment, which calls for subpoenaeing White House documents related to Trump’s impeachment charges.
The motion to table is expected to pass along party lines, and Schumer will then likely introduce another amendment to McConnell’s resolution outlining the rules for the impeachment trial.
House impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren pushed back against arguments from Pat Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, that the House is trying to get the Senate to do its investigative job.
“The House is certainly not asking the Senate to do the House’s job,” Lofgren said. “The House is asking the Senate to do its job.”
The House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team continue to debate an amendment from Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer calling for the White House to be subpoenaed for relevant documents.
Fun fact: House impeachment manager Adam Schiff is not actually the first person to use the term “ass-backwards” on the Senate floor.
That honor appears to go to Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who used the term in 2016 to denounce a bipartisan proposal to block a military arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
“I think it would be pretty odd for members on the other side of the aisle who almost unanimously supported the Iranian nuclear agreement … [to] deny a weapons sale to somebody who is in the fight with you,” Graham said at the time. “You’re talking about ass-backwards.”
Former Republican senator Jeff Flake, who declined to run for reelection in 2018 because of his opposition to Trump, was spotted in the Senate chamber as the president’s impeachment trial continues.
Flake wrote a Washington Post op-ed last month urging his former Republican colleagues to “put country over party” once the trial began:
I don’t envy you. You’re on a big stage now. Please don’t accept an alternate reality that would have us believe in things that obviously are not true, in the service of executive behavior that we never would have encouraged and a theory of executive power that we have always found abhorrent.
If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now. And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.
Schiff denounces ‘ass-backwards’ impeachment trial
Denouncing the proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff argued it would be “ass-backwards” to hold a trial and then request witness testimony.
House impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren has now taken the Senate floor to argue for the need to subpoena White House documents related to the charges against Trump.
Lofgren, who participated in the Clinton and Nixon impeachment cases, will make history as the first woman to present arguments as a manager during an impeachment trial.
The New York Times has more on Lofgren’s impeachment history:
She was a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 when it approved articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with a White House intern. And as a young law student in 1974, she helped the committee draft its Watergate charges against President Richard M. Nixon.
Now — 46 years after the Nixon case — the 72-year-old lawmaker will take a high-profile role in the nation’s third impeachment trial, serving as one of the managers who will prosecute the House’s case against President Trump in the Senate.
Amy Klobuchar, one of the Democratic senators running for president, psuhed back against a comment from White House counsel Pat Cipollone that the presidential candidates are “upset” to be away from the campaign trail.
As Trump’s impeachment trial continues on Capitol Hill, Joe Biden is holding a campaign event in Ames, Iowa, with less than two weeks to go until the state’s caucuses.
Two of Biden’s closest rivals — senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — have been pulled away from the campaign trial because of the impeachment trial, and Sanders has already had to cancel at least one rally because of the trial schedule.
A Yahoo News reporter sitting in the trial room said Republicans appeared uncomfortable as House impeachment manager Adam Schiff made the case for Trump’s removal from office.
Meanwhile, some of the president’s Senate allies appear to be using the recess to push back against Schiff’s argument because they are not allowed access to electronic devices while they are in the trial room.
Congressional reporters, who are used to relatively free rein at the Capitol to grab lawmakers for hallway interviews, are taking to social media to complain about the press restrictions enforced during Trump’s impeachment trial.
Speaking earlier today on the Senate floor, minority leader Chuck Schumer assured reporters that he would fight to protect their constitutional right to cover the proceedings.
“I want to assure everyone in the press that I will vociferously oppose any attempt to begin the trial unless the reporters trying to enter the gallery are seated,” Schumer said. “Some may not want what happens here to be public. We do.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for a 15-minute recess before Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers are allowed to debate Chuck Schumer’s amendement.
Schumer’s amendment to the impeachment trial resolution calls for the White House to be subpoenaed for documents related to the charges against Trump, so the president’s lawyers will likely be forcefully pushing back against it.
Schumer introduces amendment to subpoena White House documents
As promised, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has introduced an amendment to the impeachment trial resolution to suboena the White House for documents related to the allegations against Trump.
Schumer would need a majority of the Republican-controlled chamber to support the measure in order to get it passed, but the potential Republican swing votes have largely said they are not ready at this point in the trial to back the proposal.
While slamming Trump’s impeachment on the Senate floor, White House counsel Pat Cipollone mocked the Democratic senators who are running for president.
“Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now,” Cipollone said, referring to the imminent Iowa caucuses.
But the Democratic senators who are seeking their party’s presidential nomination — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — have emphasized the importance of fulfilling their constitutional duty by participating in the impeachment trial.
“Some things are more important than politics,” Warren said during last week’s debate.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone falsely claimed that Republican House members who sit on the committees that led the impeachment inquiry were not allowed to attend closed-door hearings during the investigation.
A staffer for Republican senator Ted Cruz posted this tweet to apparently poke fun at chamber rules barring members from carrying their cell phones into the impeachment trial.
But several Capitol Hill reporters going in and out of the trial room said the Texas Republican did not appear to be actually violating the rule barring senators from carrying electronics during the proceedings.
House impeachment manager Adam Schiff has yielded back the floor, and another one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, is now speaking.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone only used up three minutes of his side’s hour of time, so Sekulow could speak for up to 57 minutes.
Sekulow accused Democrats of spearheading a baseless investigation against Trump with the partisan goal of removing him from office.
It appears Trump is watching the Senate impeachment trial from Davos, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.
The president advised his Twitter followers to read the “transcripts,” inaccurately referring to the memos the White House released about Trump’s calls with the Ukrainian president.
However, the White House memo from Trump’s July phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy actually showed the US president asking his Ukrainian counterpart for a “favor” before going on to discuss political investigations.
Presenting the House impeachment managers’ argument against Mitch McConnell’s impeachment trial resolution, Adam Schiff played clips of Trump that Democrats say underscore the president’s abuse of power.
One of Schiff’s clips included Trump falsely saying in July, “Then, I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president.”
Article II of the constitution outlines the president’s “executive power,” but it does not grant the commander-in-chief unchecked power.
The office of senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican whose approach to Trump’s impeachment trial is being closely watched because of her tough reelection race this year, said she pushed for changes to the resolution outlining trial procedures.
In another change to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s impeachment resolution, evidence from the House impeachment inquiry will be automatically added to the record unless there’s an objection.
Change to impeachment trial resolution will allow for three days of arguments
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment trial now allows each side to have three days to present their arguments, instead of two.
That change could allow the trial to wrap up around 9 p.m. ET for three consecutive days, instead of ending at around 1 a.m. ET for two days.
Democrats had complained that the original schedule was meant to allow arguments to stretch into the early hours of the morning, when most Americans would not be watching the proceedings.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone used his time on the Senate floor to denounce Trump’s impeachment.
“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone told senators.
“And that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution.”
Cipollone then reserved the rest of his hour of time to rebut the arguments of the House impeachment managers.
White House counsel takes the floor
White House counsel Pat Cipollone has now taken the Senate floor to argue in favor of majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
Cipollone will be given up to an hour to argue in favor of the resolution, and then the floor will be turned over to the House impeachment managers, who will argue against the resolution.
But several congressional reporters noted the reading of the resolution included a significant change from yesterday.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment hearing is now being read on the floor.
After that, the president’s legal team and the House impeachment managers will each get an hour to debate the proposal.
Minority leader Chuck Schumer will then be able to begin introducing amendments to the resolution aimed at allowing new evidence and witness testimony to be uncovered during the trial, but McConnell has said he will move to table the measures.
As a reminder, senators are not allowed to speak during the debate.
Impeachment trial reconvenes
John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, has sworn in senator Jim Inhofe, who missed last week’s swearing-in because of a family medical emergency.
Every senator has now been sworn in, and the impeachment trial of Donald Trump can resume.
A debate over majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining potential rules for the impeachment trial will soon begin.
The White House has issued a statement denouncing House impeachment managers’ argument that Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel who will represent Trump during the impeachment trial, has a conflict of interest because he was told about concerns regarding the president’s Ukraine call.
“The Democrats are an utter joke – they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley. “The idea that the Counsel to the President has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the President of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”
The Senate is minutes away from beginning debate on the resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment trial, and the House impeachment managers have just filed a reply to the brief from the president’s team.
“President Trump’s brief confirms that his misconduct is indefensible,” the reply reads. “President Trump’s lengthy brief to the Senate is heavy on rhetoric and procedural grievances, but entirely lacks a legitimate defense of his misconduct.
“It is clear from his response that President Trump would rather discuss anything other than what he actually did.”
The fiery brief from the president’s team derided Trump’s impeachment as “a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer warned that the impeachment trial rules proposed by majority leader Mitch McConnell would “result in a rushed trial with little evidence, in the dark of night.”
The New York Democrat argued the rules should be taken as further evidence of Trump’s guilt. “The McConnell rules seem to be designed by President Trump for President Trump. It asks the Senate to rush through as fast as possible and makes getting evidence as hard as possible,” Schumer said.
“If Leader McConnell is so confident the president did nothing wrong, why don’t they want the case to be presented in broad daylight?”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is now speaking on the floor, denouncing the press restrictions enforced on Capitol Hill for the impeachment trial.
“Some may not want what happens here to be public,” Schumer said. “We do.”
Congressional reporters have repeatedly complained about the restrictions, warning that they represent an unprecedented infringement on press freedoms.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would move to table any amendments to the impeachment trial resolution focused on obtaining new evidence for Trump’s trial.
Minority leader Chuck Schumer has promised to introduce a series of amendments aimed at allowing new evidence and witness testimony to be uncovered in the course of the trial, but McConnell only needs a simple majority to kill those measures.
McConnell defends impeachment trial resolution
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is currently speaking on the floor in defense of his resolution outlining proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
McConnell said the measure already had the support of a majority of the Republican-controlled chamber. “That’s because it sets up a structure that is fair, evenhanded and tracks closely with past precedents,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Democrats have complained the resolution would force arguments to go into the early hours of the morning, when most Americans would not be watching the proceedings, and argued the rules do not mirror those of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, as McConnell had claimed they would.
A little more on the growing political pressure on Susan Collins, the moderate Republican from Maine whom Senate Democrats hope might help them force the calling of new witnesses and admission of new information later in Trump’s trial.
Earlier today, Planned Parenthood endorsed a Democratic challenger to Collins in November’s election.
As headlines go, “federal women’s health provider backs challenger to Republican” might sound a bit “dog bites man”, but Collins has defended Planned Parenthood against Republican attempts to cut its funding and as recently as 2017 she was honoured by the group as “an outspoken champion for women’s health”. The organisation endorsed her in 2002.
Here’s a taste of how the Associated Press reported Planned Parenthood’s move:
Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine House of Representatives [and running for the nomination to face Collins], welcomed the endorsement from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
‘There’s never been a more important time to stand up for reproductive rights,’ she said, in the face of ‘systematic attacks on reproductive rights across the country.’
Collins … is facing perhaps the toughest re-election fight of her career. Critics have vowed they won’t forget her key vote for [Trump supreme court nominee Brett] Kavanaugh, whose nomination [in 2018] survived an accusation that he sexually assaulted someone in high school.
‘From her decisive vote to confirm Kavanaugh to her refusal to stop Republican attacks on our health and rights, it’s clear that she has turned her back on those she should be championing,’ said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood, adding that Collins ‘has abandoned not only the people of Maine, but women across the country’.
Tuesday is the day before the 47th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs Wade supreme court ruling that made abortion legal across the US. Collins has said it is settled law and Kavanaugh would not rule to overturn it but many fear otherwise under a court tilted firmly right under Trump. Here’s Jessica Glenza on the growing threat to women’s reproductive rights and access to abortion:
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said he would introduce a series of amendements to majority leader Mitch McConnell’s impeachment trial resolution later today, with the goal of collecting new evidence for Trump’s trial.
- The House impeachment managers slammed the proposed trial rules outlined in McConnell’s resolution as “a White House-driven and rigged process, with a truncated schedule designed to go late into the night and further conceal the President’s misconduct.”
- The impeachment managers raised ethical concerns about White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who will represent Trump during the Senate trial. The House Democrats said Cipollone was a “material witness to the charges in both Articles of Impeachment for which President Trump now faces trial.”
The blog will have much more as the Senate debate over the impeachment trial rules gets underway, so stay tuned.
Bernie Sanders has issued a statement in response to Hillary Clinton’s comments that “nobody likes” him and “nobody wants to work with” him, insiting he is focusing on Trump’s impeachment trial.
“My focus today is on a monumental moment in American history: the impeachment trial of Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “Together, we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history.”
The comments, which were included as part of an upcoming documentary about Clinton, were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
“He was in Congress for years [and] had one senator support him,” Clinton said of her 2016 primary rival, calling him “a career politician” and criticizing the “culture around” the two-time Democratic presidential candidate.
“I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” Clinton said.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer repeatedly declined to answer reporters’ questions about how many amendments Democrats would be introducing to the impeachment resolution.
There will be up to two hours of debate for each amendment, but they will not pass unless four Republicans support the Democrats’ proposals, which currently seems unlikely.
Senate Democrats need at least four of their Republican colleagues to cross the aisle to have their amendments to the impeachment resolution adopted, and that seems very unlikely to happen at this point.
If the amendments are not adopted, it would likely cut off senators from hearing new witness testimony during the impeachment trial.
Schumer pledges to introduce several amendments to impeachment resolution
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said he would introduce a number of amendments to majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
In addition to an amendment calling for a subpoena of White House documents related to the allegations, Schumer said he would introduce several other amendments aimed at calling new witnesses to testify.
“We have no intention to be dilatory,” Schumer said.
He closed by reminding senators of their constitutional responsibility. “This is a historic moment,” Schumer said. “The eyes of America are watching. Republican senators must rise to the occasion.”
Schumer: McConnell’s proposed rules outline a trial on ‘fast forward’ mode
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is holding a press conference on Capitol Hill and slamming majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
Echoing his earlier statement, Schumer said McConnell’s resolution was “nothing short of a national disgrace” and warned that its implementation would make the impeachment trial “one of the very dark days of the Senate.” He added that the resolution outlined an impeachment trial on “fast forward” mode.
The New York Democrat went on to say he would be introducing amendments to the resolution later today, starting with a proposal to subpoena White House documents related to the charges against the president.
Updated at 4.14pm GMT
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has canceled a planned rally at the University of Northern Iowa tomorrow because of the Senate impeachment trial.
But the Vermont senator has deployed one of his most high-profile surrogates, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the first caucus state as he participates in Trump’s impeachment trial.
There are four Democratic senators currently running for president — Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — whose campaigning plans will likely be complicated by the impeachment trial.
The proceedings come at a critical moment in the campaign, with less than two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses.
While speaking to reporters, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff brushed off a question about whether his team would use the full 24 hours to present their case for Trump’s removal from office, as the proposed trial rules would allow.
Republican senator John Cornyn previously downplayed Democrats’ complaints that the proposed rules from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell could allow arguments to stretch into the early hours of the morning.
Cornyn told a CBS News reporter, “I think some of the hyperventilating over the possibility that we would extend to the wee hours of the morning, I think we’ll work all that out.”
Updated at 3.51pm GMT
Schiff: McConnell’s proposed rules make it ‘impossible to have a fair trial’
House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s planned rules for the impeachment trial make it “impossible to have a fair trial.”
The California Democrat added that if McConnell’s rules are adopted and Trump is acquitted, the proceedings will not have proven the president innocent.
Instead, Schiff argued, the trial would only be a display of the Senate’s willingness to help the president cover up the truth.
Schiff: ‘This is the process for a rigged trial’
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff again criticized Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
“We can see why this resolution was kept from us and the American people,” the California Democrat said.
Schiff outlined the differences between McConnell’s resolution and the rules observed during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, which the Senate leader claimed he would use as a model for his proposal.
“This is not the process for a fair trial,” Schiff said. “This is the process for a rigged trial.”
Jerry Nadler, another House impeachment manager, then took the microphione to say, “This fixation on the Clinton trial is weird.”
The New York Democrat argued the focus should not be on a past impeachment trial. “The question is, should you have a fair trial now?” Nadler said.
He added that any senator who supports McConnell’s proposed rules would be “complicit in the cover-up of the president.”
A solid majority of Americans believe the impeachment trial should include new testimony from witnesses who did not appear during the House inquiry, according to a new poll.
The CNN poll found that 69% of Americans, including 48% of Republicans, say the trial should feature new witness testimony. The poll also concluded that 51% of Americans support the Senate voting to remove Trump from office, compared to 45% who oppose it.
But despite half of the country pushing for his ouster, Trump’s approval rating remains unchanged at 43%, compared to 53% who disapprove.
So it appears that nearly everyone who disapproves of Trump’s job performance also believes he should be removed from office.
Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump dismissed the importance of the impeachment trial as Democrats cried foul over the proposed rules for the proceedings.
“That whole thing is a hoax,” Trump said. “It goes nowhere because nothing happened. The only thing we’ve done is a great job.”
During his speech at the forum this morning, Trump ignored impeachment and instead focused on taking credit for the growth of the US economy.
“America is thriving; America is flourishing, and, yes, America is winning again like never before,” Trump said.
Former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, who served in the Senate for 12 years before she lost her reelection race in 2018, predicted Susan Collins would be the only Republican senator to split with her party on allowing new witnesses to testify during Trump’s impeachment trial.
Democrats need to pick off at least four Republican senators to get changes to the proposed rules approved, so Collins’ potential vote would not be enought to move the needle.
Collins faces a difficult reelection race later this year in her home state of Maine.
Impeachment managers raise ethical concerns about Trump’s lawyer
The House impeachment managers have issued another statement warning of potential ethical concerns about White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who will represent Trump during the Senate trial.
“In preparation for the trial of Donald J. Trump before the Senate, we write to notify you that evidence received by the House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry indicates that you are a material witness to the charges in both Articles of Impeachment for which President Trump now faces trial,” said the managers, who are Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia.
“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases.”
In a longer letter explaining their concerns, the managers cited this Wall Street Journal story from November, which said that John Eisenberg, the general counsel for the National Security Council, told Cipollone about concerns regarding Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president.
Pelosi calls McConnell’s impeachment trial a ‘sham proposal’
Echoing Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has issued a statement slamming Mitch McConnell’s resolution outlining rules for Trump’s impeachment trial as a “sham proposal.”
“Leader McConnell’s process is deliberately designed to hide the truth from the Senate and from the American people, because he knows that the President’s wrongdoing is indefensible and demands removal,” Pelosi said in the statement.
“No jury would be asked to operate on McConnell’s absurdly compressed schedule, and it is obvious that no Senator who votes for it is intending to truly weigh the damning evidence of the President’s attacks on our Constitution. …
“Duty, honor and country are at stake. Every Senator who supports this sham process must be held accountable to the American people.”
House impeachment managers slam trial as ‘White House-driven and rigged process’
In response to the rules proposed by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for the impeachment trial, the House impeachment managers issued a statement slamming the resolution as an unfair attempt to acquit the president without scrutiny.
“A White House-driven and rigged process, with a truncated schedule designed to go late into the night and further conceal the President’s misconduct, is not what the American people expect or deserve,” said the managers, who are Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia.
The managers also dismissed arguments from McConnell that the proposed rules mirrored those of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.
“In the Clinton case, the President provided all of the documents — more than 90,000 pages of them — before the trial took place. McConnell’s resolution rejects that basic necessity,” the statement read.
“And in the Clinton case, all of the witnesses had testified before the Senate trial began, and the only issue was whether they would be re-called to testify once more. The substance of what they would say was already known. Here, McConnell is trying to prevent the witnesses from ever testifying, and the public from ever finding out what they have to say.”
Updated at 1.57pm GMT
Democrats prepare to argue against proposed impeachment trial rules
Good morning, live blog readers!
It has been more than a month since the House voted to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and the matter is finally advancing to a Senate debate over the rules of a trial to determine whether he should be removed from office.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, released his proposed rules for the trial last night, and the resolution immediately sparked outrage from Democrats, who argued the president’s allies were trying to rush to an acquittal.
According to the rules, the White House counsel and House impeachment managers will each be allowed 24 hours over two days each to make opening arguments. Those opening arguments will be followed by 16 hours of questioning and a four-hour debate before the ultimate vote on whether to remove Trump from office.
The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, called the proposal a “national disgrace,” as many other Democrats complained that the timetable could force arguments to stretch into the early hours of the morning and thus minimize public attention on the proceedings.
But with Republicans holding the majority of Senate seats, Democrats will need to convince some of their colleagues across the aisle to push back against the proposal in order to secure changes. They will get the chance to do so today at 1pm ET, when the trial will pick up again and the Senate will get the chance to debate the resolution.
Here’s what else the blog is keeping its eye on:
- Trump is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he delivered a speech early this morning.
- Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are campaigning in Iowa today, with less than two weeks to go until the caucuses.
- Tulsi Gabbard is campaigning in New Hampshire.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Updated at 1.48pm GMT
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